Influencer marketing can make your brand explode (in a good way). But you have to have a solid plan. Otherwise, it’s like firing off a rocketship in the wrong direction. This is why building an influencer marketing strategy has to be at the top of your to-do list.
Here’s what this strategy guide covers:
- What’s influencer marketing?
- The current state of influencer marketing
- The benefits an effective influencer marketing strategy delivers
- How to develop an influencer campaign that wins 🏆
It’s when you (a brand or marketer) partner with an influencer to promote a product or service. This looks like sponsored posts, videos, or any kind of content that promotes a brand (or their product).
For example, a fitness influencer partners with an energy drink brand. They collaborate together to curate posts that resonate with the influencer’s audience. And those same posts celebrate the benefits of the energy drink. It’s a win-win, see?
The current state of influencer marketing
Nearly three-quarters of marketers plan on using influencer marketing in 2022. And most of them (93%) plan to use Instagram.
Pssst! 👀 Word on the street is you should keep an eye on TikTok and YouTube, too.
The reason why so many brands focus on influencer marketing is that it works.
According to Civic Science, 14% of young people (18 – 24) bought something in the last six months because of an influencer’s recommendation. The same is true for 11% of millennials.
Also real quick, an influencer is anyone with social media influence — not just a celebrity. This could be a celebrity, a niche expert, and so on. As long as someone has an engaged group of followers on social media, they’re an influencer. There are four primary categories:
Nano influencers: 1k – 10k followers
Micro influencers: 10k – 50k followers
Macro influencers: 350k – 1M followers
Mega influencers: 1M+ followers
The type of influencer you work with depends on your campaign goals. For example, if you want high engagement, stick to nano and micro influencers. But if you want the prestige of a high-profile celebrity, shoot for the macro and mega juggernauts.
The benefits an effective influencer marketing strategy delivers
Influencer marketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry and it’s not a mystery as to why. When brands invest in smart strategies, they get these benefits in return:
Enhanced brand awareness
Influencer marketing gives your target audience the chance to get to know you and your story. This is one of the first steps in building long-term relationships with your audience.
Build trust and authority
Partner with quality influencers to pump out quality content. Then listen to your voice as it gets louder. This means you get to cut through the “chatter” online and grow into a leading authority in your industry.
Reach target audiences
The best way to reach your target audience is to find out who they’re already listening to. Influencer marketing empowers brands to speak directly to their ideal customer.
Connect with new audiences
If you’re ready to expand into new territory, you can work with influencers from all over the world.
Pro Tip 💡
Partner with localized influencers to connect with highly-targeted audiences
in specific locations.
Generate leads and conversions
An effective influencer strategy WILL deliver sales. The key is figuring out how to make sure you’re covering all the bases (more on this in a minute).
Create long-lasting relationships
Good business always comes down to people. The relationships you create matter. And if you’re in it for the long haul, you’re gonna need the right influencers by your side. Plus, savvy marketers understand the financial value of lifelong customers.
Alright, so we know what influencer marketing is and why your strategy is important. Now it’s time to get down to business.
We’re going to walk through creating an influencer marketing strategy step by step. But first, let’s set this up with a scenario:
- You’re the top marketer for a luxury skincare brand in the U.S.
- You want to develop an influencer strategy for your next campaign
☝️ Now keep this example in the back of your mind as we move through each step.
Step #1: Identify your goal
Before you do anything else, take a beat to think about what you want your campaign to accomplish. Start with this:
I want to launch an influencer marketing campaign to _________________________________.
What do you want to fill in the blank? Here are some common influencer marketing strategy goals to choose from:
- Reach a bigger audience
- Attract a different audience
- Build trust
- Increase brand awareness
- Drive website traffic
- Increase sales, revenue, or leads
- Grow a social following
- Get more social engagement
Once you have a clear goal in mind, it’s time to switch focus and think about who your audience is.
Step #2: Know your audience and their interests
Next up, spend some time getting to know your target audience and what they’re into. This is a critical step because it sets the foundation for the rest of your strategy. Here’s what you need:
- Decide whether you want to reach your current audience or a new one
- Research what your audience is interested in
- Find out who your target audience follows on social media platforms
- Get a firm grip on demographics (like age, gender, and location)
- Use everything you learned from steps 1 – 4 to build audience personas
An audience persona is a description of a person who represents your target audience. It’s fictional, but it’s based on real data. Let’s go back to our luxury skincare scenario to show an example:
You’re a luxury skincare marketer. And you want a campaign that reaches your current audience. After some research you discover that your audience is:
- Mostly women
- Between 18 and 24 years old
- Primarily concerned with acne, oily skin, and dry skin
- Located in bigger U.S. cities
- Interested in self-care, yoga, and Gen Z fashion trends
A sample buyer persona for your campaign might look like this:
Student and part-time retail associate
In a long-term relationship
Currently enrolled in college courses
San Diego, California
Pro Tip 💡
Take it a step further by creating influencer personas. These represent your ideal influencer. They should “match up” with your audience personas.
Step #3: Choose the right social media platform
It’s clear that Instagram is the #1 influencer marketing platform. But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to just Instagram. You can campaign exclusively on other platforms, or use a blend of both. Here’s a breakdown of marketers that use the top five social media platforms:
Social Platforms For Influencer Marketing
And here are the four least important social media channels for influencer marketing:
The platform you choose should align with your strategy’s goal and audience. So let’s take a look at the top four social media platforms, and the audience and benefits of each.
Going back to our luxury skincare brand example, IG is the best platform choice. It’s where your target audience (and buyer persona) is most likely to be.
Step #4: Identify, track, and document key performance indicators
To recap, here’s what we know so far:
- Campaign strategy goal
- Target audience
- Social media platform
Now let’s touch base real quick with our luxury skincare example. We’ll say that our brand is relatively new in the market and we’re trying to make a name for ourselves.
In this case, our strategy’s primary goal is brand awareness. And our secondary goal is sales (because who doesn’t love more sales).
Next up, we need to figure out a way to track all this. If you don’t identify key performance indicators (KPIs), you won’t know if your strategy worked. And your KPIs have to match your strategy goal like this:
Influencer Campaign Goal
Average Order Value
Once you know what your KPIs are, make sure you have a way to track them. It’s important to check KPIs a few times through each campaign to make sure everything’s on track. This way you can make campaign adjustments as you go.
So let’s revisit our luxury skincare brand example. Here’s a quick summary of what the strategy would look like so far:
- You want your influencer marketing campaign to increase brand awareness and generate more sales and engagement on Instagram
- Your KPIs should then measure impressions, mentions, shares, profits, and so on how many clicks, comments, and likes each sponsored post gets
- You can measure these KPIs through Instagram Business Insights or other analytic programs
- You also track these through an all-in-one influencer marketing platform
Step #5: Figure out your influencer marketing budget
Get comfortable talking about money because there’s no way around this one … budgets!
There are three ways to go about compensating the influencers you partner with. And you gotta get it figured out before you start reaching out to creators.
Commissions or affiliate marketing
You pay influencers a certain percentage of each sale they drive. For example, an influencer makes 100 sales at $10 each for a total of $1k. You both agreed on a 5% commission rate. This means you pay that influencer $50.
Gifts and free products
Influencers post sponsored content and promote your product or service. For example, your luxury skincare brand sends an influencer a free moisturizer sample. In exchange, they post a demo video. It shows followers how to apply your moisturizer and get the best results.
You and an influencer negotiate a fixed rate per campaign or number of posts. For example, your luxury skincare brand partners with an influencer and agree on a rate of $100 per post.
Ok, so let’s explore this through our skincare brand example. We’re a luxury brand which means we can (and should) dedicate a decent chunk of change to marketing.
Now let’s say that you’re the head of the marketing department and your total budget is $50,000. You do your research and discover that:
Nearly 40% of brands invest 10% – 20% of their marketing budget in influencer marketing.
So you go all-in with 20%, or $10,000, and focus on macro and mega influencers.
This is a great choice because bigger IG stars can earn you lots of brand awareness. After all, they have tens of thousands of followers on social media. But you don’t have to go way over budget like you would if you partnered with big-name celebrities.
In this case, a fixed rate works best. This lets you account for every penny in your budget, plan ahead, and easily calculate ROI.
Pro Tip 💡
You aren’t limited to one compensation method. You can mix-and-match payment styles to match your campaign needs.
Step #6: Curate a powerful content calendar
Content calendars, or posting calendars, plan out campaign content in advance. Some calendars are more detailed than others and it comes down to what works best for your brand.
Some brands prefer to have every detail nailed down before launch. Other brands like to stay flexible and only plan a week in advance. It’s up to you and the influencer(s) you work with.
No matter how far in advance you plan the content, you have to nail down a posting schedule. A content calendar plans out the content, but a posting schedule plans out when the content goes live.
For example, some brands want to post once a week on Tuesday. Other brands might want twice a week on Monday afternoon and Saturday morning. You might want one influencer to post on Monday, and another to post on Thursday. Or maybe you want all your influencers to post on the same day an hour apart.
Again, it’s up to what’s best for you and your goals. But you have to communicate the schedule with the influencers you partner with. Otherwise, you risk missing posts or posting at the wrong time.
Step #7: Launch!
Once you’ve completed steps 1 – 6, your strategy is ready to go. All you need to do now is find the right influencer for the job 🤩
Final thoughts on building an effective influencer marketing strategy
As you can see, developing an effective influencer campaign takes time. There’s a lot of work and preparation that goes into a smart campaign, and it all starts with the strategy. So here’s a quick recap of how to go about it:
- Identify your campaign goal
- Research your target audience
- Choose the right social media platform
- Figure out what your KPIs are (and how to track them)
- Set aside some influencer marketing budget
- Create a content calendar and posting schedule
- Find the right influencer for the campaign
Keep learning about influencer marketing and how it can take your brand to the next level. And be sure to check back on the Humanz blog. We’re always updating it with resources for influencers, marketers, and brands.